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is but rarely) taken from actual Scripture, he has made as little alteration, even of words, as the rhythm would permit The reader will recollect that the book of Genesis does not state that Eve was tempted, by a demon, but by " the Serpent;" and that only because he was " the most subtil of all the beasts of the field." Whatever interpretation the Rabbins and the Fathers may have put upon this, I take the words as I find them, and reply, with Bishop Watson upon similar ^occasions, when the Fathers were quoted to him, as Moderator in the schools of Cambridge, "Behold the Book I"—holding up the Scripture. 1 It is to be recollected that my present subject has nothing to do with the New Testament, to which no reference can be here made without anachronism. With the poems upon similar topics I have not been recently familiar. Since I was twenty, I have never read Milton; but I had read him so frequently before, that this may make little difference. Gesner's " Death of Abel" I have never read since I was eight years of age, at Aberdeen. The general impression of my recollection Is delight; but of the contents I remember only that Cain's wife was called Mahala, and Abel's Thlrra. in the following pages I have called them " Adah" and " Zillah," the earliest female names which occur in Genesis; they were those of Lantech's wives: those of Cain and Abel are not called by their names. Whether, then, a coincidence of subject may have caused the same in expression, I know nothing, and care as little. *
The reader will please to bear in mind (what few choose to recollect), that there is no allusion to a future state in any of the books of Moses, nor Indeed in the Old Testament3 For a reason for this extraordinary omission he may consult Warburton's "Divine Legation;" whether satisfactory or not no better has yet been assigned. I have therefore supposed it new to Cain, without, I hope, any perversion of Holy Writ
With regard to the language of Lucifer, it was difficult for me to make him talk like a clergyman upon the same subjects; but I have done what I could to restrain him within the bounds of spiritual politeness.
If he disclaims having tempted Eve in the shape of the Serpent it is only because the book of Genesis has not the most distant allusion to anything of the kind, but merely to the Serpent in his serpentine capacity.
Note.—The reader will perceive that the author has partly adopted in this poem the notion of Cuvier, that the world had been destroyed several times before the creation of man. This speculation,
1 [" I never troubled myself with answering any argument! which the opponents in the divinity-schools brought against the Articles of the Church, nor ever admitted their authority as decisive of a difficulty; but I used on such occasions to say to them, holding up the New Testament in ray hand, 1 En sacrum codicem I Mere is the fountain of truth ; why do you follow the streams derived from it by sophistry, or polluted by the passions, of man?'" — Bp. Watson M Life, vou. p.63.]
1 [Here follows, in the original draught, —" I am prepared to he accused of Manichelsm, or some other hard name ending in ism, which make a formidable figure and awful sound in the eyes and earl of those who would be as much puttied to explain the terras so bandied about, as the liberal and pious lndulgers In such epithets. Against such 1 can defend myself, or, if necessary, I can attack in turn. "J
3 [There are numerous passages dispersed throughout the Old Testament, which Import something more than " an
derived from the different strata and the bones of enormous and unknown animals found In them, is not contrary to the Mosaic account but rather confirms it; as no human bones have yet been discovered in those strata, although those of many known animals are found near the remains of the unknown. The assertion of Lucifer, that the pre-Adamite world was also peopled by rational beings much more intelligent than man, and proportionably powerful to the mammoth, &c. &c. is, of course, a poetical fiction to help him to make out his case.
I ought to add, that there is a "tramelogedia" of Alfieri, called " Abele."— I have never read that nor any other of the posthumous works of the writer, except his Life.
Ravenna, Sept. 20. 1821.
Spirit) Angel Of Thx Loan.
A MYSTERY. <
The Land without Paradise. — Time, Sunrise.
Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Adah, Zillah, offering a Sacrifice.
Adam. God, the Eternal 1 Infinite! All-wise!— Who out of darkness on the deep didst make Light on the waters with a word—all hail I Jehovah, with returning light ail hail 1
Eve. God I who didst name the day, and separate Morning from night, till then divided never—
allusion to a future state." In truth, the Old Testament abounds in phrases which imply the immortality of the loci, and which would be insignificant and hardly intelligible, but upon that supposition. '• Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit return unto God who gave it" — Sect. xil. 7. "And many of them that sleep in the durt of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting Lie, sod some to shame: and they that be wise shall shine as the brightDcsi of the firmament; and they that turn many to riahteouintM as the stars for ever and ever." — Dan. x. 2. "Tknoir that my Redeemer lireth, and that he shall stand in the Utter days upon the earth: and though after my skin worms stujl destroy my body, yet In my flesh shall I see Cod."-Jai six. 2b.—Brit. Bet.]
M 4 [Lord Byron has thought proper to call this drasM s Mystery ;" the name which was given in our own coantrT. before the Reformation, to those scenic representations of tbe
Who didst divide the wave from wave, and call
Aid. God I who didst call the elements Into
Adah. God, the Eternal! Parent of all things 1 Who didst create these best and beauteous beings, To be beloved, more than all, save thee— Let me love thee and them:—All hail! all hail I
ZiUah. Oh, God 1 who loving, making, blessing all, Tet didst permit the serpent to creep in, And drive my father forth from Paradise, Keep us from further evil:—Hail 1 all hail I
Adam. Son Cain, my first-born, wherefore art thou silent?
Cam. Why should I speak?
Adam. To pray. *
Coin. Have ye not pray'd?
Adam. We have, most fervently.
Cain. And loudly: I
Hare heard you.
Adam. So will God, I trust.
Adam. But thou, my eldest born, art silent still.
Cain. "Tis better I should be so.
A Jam. Wherefore so?
Cain. I have nought to ask. *
Adam. Nor aught to thank for ? >
Adam. Dost thou not live?
Cain. Must I not die?
The fruit of our forbidden tree begins
Adam. And we must gather it again. Oh, God 1 why didst thou plant the tree of knowledge?
Cain. And wherefore pluck'd ye not the tree of life?
Tt might have then defied him.
Adam. Oh 1 my son,
Blaspheme not: these are serpent's words.
Cain. Why not?
The nuke spoke truth.- it mat the tree of knowledge;
Bmteriom events of our religion, which, indecent and unMifjiag as they seem to ourselves, were, perhaps, the principal means by which a knowledge of those events was conveyed to our rude and uninstructed ancestors. But, except to the topics on which it is employed, Lord Byron's Mystery taa Do resemblance to those which it claims as its prototypes. - lluia.]
1 [u Prayer," said Lord Byron, at Ccphalonia, " does not tniiist in the act of kneeling, nor in repeating certain words I 13 % solemn manner. Devotion is the affecUon of the heart, this I feci; for when 1 view the wonders of creation, I ho* to the majesty of Heaven; and when I feel the enjoyment of lite, health, and happiness, I feci grateful to God for living bestowed these upon me." — Kennedy's Conversa&w,p.l3i]
1 [" Say then, shall man, deprived all power of choice.
Eve. My boy! thou speak est as I spoke, in sin, Before thy birth: let me not see rcnew'd My misery in thine. I have repented. Let me not see my offspring fall into The snares beyond the walls of Paradise, Which e'en in Paradise destroy'd his parents. Content thee with what is. Had we been so, Thou now hadst been contented. — Oh, my son!
Adam. Our orisons completed, let us hence, Each to his task of toil—not heavy, though Needful: the earth is young, and yields us kindly Her fruits with little labour.
Eve. Cain, my son,
Behold thy father cheerful and resign'd,
ZiUah. Wilt thou not, my brother?
Abel. Why wilt thou wear this gloom upon thy brow,
Which can avail thee nothing, save to rouse
Adah. My beloved Cain,
Wilt thou frown even on me?
Cain. No, Adah! no;
I fain would be alone a little while.
Adah. If not, I will
Return to seek you here.
Abel. The peace of God
Be on your spirit, brother I
[Exeunt Abel, Zillaii, ana! Adah.
Cam (eolus). And this is
Life!—Toil I and wherefore should I toil ?—because
benignity, to bless his creatures, yet he expects the outward expressions of devotion from the rational part of them." This is certainly what Juvenal means to inculcate; hence his earnest recommendation of a due regard to the public and ceremonial part of religion Gippord.]
3 T" I took out my * Ogdcn on Prayer,* and read some of it. Dr. Johnson praised him. 'Abemetny,* said he,' allows only of a physical effect of prayer upon the mind, which may be produced many ways as well as by prayer; for instance, by meditation. Ogden goes farther. In truth, we have the consent of all nations for the efficacy of prayer, whether offered up by individuals or by assemblies; and revelation has told us it will be effectual.' " — Boswbll, vol. iv. p. G6. cd. 1835.]
4 TThis passage affords a key to the temper and frame of mind of Cain throughout the piece. He disdains ttie limited existence allotted to him; he has a rooted horror of death, attended with a vehement curiosity as to his nature; and he nourishes a sullen anger against nis parents, to whose mis. conduct he ascribes his degraded state. Added to this, he has an insatiable thirst for knowledge beyond the bounds prescribed to mortality; and this part of the poem bears a strong resemblance to Manfred, whose counterpart, indeed, in the main points of character, Cain seems to be. — CAMf*
I judge but by the fruits—and Uiey are bitter —
Which I must feed ou for a fault not mine.
Whom have we here ? — A shape like to the angels,
Tet of a sterner and a sadder aspect
Of spiritual essence: why do I quake?
Why should I fear him more than other spirits,
Whom I see daily wave their fiery swords
Before the gates round which I linger oft.
In twilight's hour, to catch a glimpse of those
Gardens which are my just inheritance,
Ere the night closes o'er the inhibited walls
And the immortal trees which overtop
The cherubim-defended battlements?
If I shrink not from these, the fire-arm'd angels.
Why should I quail from him who now approaches?
Tet he seems mightier far than them, nor less
Beauteous, and yet not all as beautiful
As he hath been, and might be: sorrow seems
Half of his immortality.' And is it
So? and can aught grieve save humanity?
Enter Lucifer.? Lucifer. Mortal 1
Cain. Spirit, who art thou?
Lucifer. Master of spirits.
Cain. And being so, canst thou
Leave them, and walk with dust?
Lucifer. I know the thoughts
Of dust, and feel for it, and with you.
Cain. How 1
Tou know my thoughts?
Lucifer. They are the thoughts of all
Worthy of thought; —'t is your immortal part
Cain. What immortal part?
This has not been reveal'd: the tree of life
Lucifer. Tbey have deceived thee; thou shalt live.
Cain. I live,
1 r.Cain'1 description of the approach of Lucifer would have shone in the " Paradise Lost." There is something spiritually fine in this conception of the terror of presentiment of coming evil Ji r Pke v -]
1 [Of Lucifer, as drawn by Lord Byron, we absolutely know no evil: on the contrary, the impression which we receive of hiin is, from his first introduction, most favourable. He is not only endued with all the beauty, the wisdom, and the unconquerable daring which Milton has assigned him, and which may reasonably be supposed to belong to a spirit of so exalted a nature, but he is represented as unhappy without a crime, and as pitying our unhappiness. Even before he appears, we are prepared (so far as the poet has had skill to prepare us) to sympathise with any spiritual being who is opposed to the government of Jehovah. The conversations, the exhibitions which ensue, are all conducive to the same conclusion, that whatever Is is evil, and that, had the Devil been the Creator, he would have made his creatures happier. Above all, his arguments and insinuations are allowed to pass uncontradicted, or are answered only by overbearing force, and punishment inflicted not on himself but on hit disciple. Nor is the Intention lew apparent, nor the poison leu subtle, because the language employed is not indecorous, and the accuser of the Almighty docs not descend to ribaldry or scurrilous invective.— Hbber.]
The Satan of Milton Is no half-human devil, with enough of earth about him to typify the malignant sceptic, and enough of heaven to throw a shade of sublimity on his very malignity. The Lucifer of Byron is neither a noble-fiend, nor yet a villain- iirnil — he does nothing, and he seems nothing — there is no poetry either of character or description about nlm— he is a poor, sneaking, talking devil — a most wretched metaphysician, without wit enough to sare him even from the damnation of criticism — he speaks neither poetry nor common
But live to die: and, living, see no thing
To make death hateful, save an innate clinging
A loathsome, and yet all invincible
Instinct of life, which I abhor, as I
Despise myself, yet cannot overcome —
And so I live. Would I bad never lived! [not
Lucifer. Thou livest, and must live for ever: think The earth, which is thine outward cov'ring, is Existence—it will cease, and thou wilt be No less than thou art now.
Cain. No less! and why
Lucifer. It may be thou shalt be as we.
Cain. And ye?
Lucifer. Are everlasting.
Cain. Are ye happy?
Lucifer. We are mighty.
Lucifer. No: art thou r
Cain. How should I be so? Look on me! Lucifer. Poor clay \
And thou pretendest to be wretched! Thou 1 Cain. I am : —and thou, with all thy might, what art thou?
Lucifer. One who aspired to be what made thee, and Would not have made thee what thou art.
Cain. Ah! Thou look'st almost a god ; and
Lucifer. I am none:
And having fail'd to be one, would be nought
Lucifer. Thy sire's Maker, and the earth's.
Cain. And heaven'*,
And all that In them is. So I have heard
Lucifer. They say—what they must sing and »r, on pain
Of being that which I am — and thou art—
Cain. And what is that?
Lucifer. Souls who dare use their immortality —s
sense. Thomas Aquinas would have flogged him more for his bad logic than his unbelief; and St. Dunstau would hi" caught him by the nose ere the purblind fiend was aware. — Black Wood. 3
The impiety chargeable on this Mystery consists mainly in this — that the purposeless and gratuitous blasphemies put into the mouth of Lucifer and Cain are left unrefiued. so tnat they appear introduced for their own sake, and the design ri the writer seems to terminate in them. There is no attempt made to prevent their leaving the strongest possible impression on the reader's mind. On the contrary, the arguments, if such they can be called, levelled against the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, are put forth with the utmost ingenuity. And it has been the noble poet's endeavour to palliate as much as possible the characters of the Evil Spirit and of the first Murderer; the former of whom is marie in elegant, poetical, philosophical sentimentalist, a sort of Manfred,— the latter an ignorant, proud, and self-willed boy, Lucifer, too, Is represented as denying all share in the t«nplat ion of Ere, which he throws upon the Serpent " in his serpentine capacity ;" the author pleading, that he dors s*\ only because the book of Genesis baa not the most disu-r.t allusion to any thing of the kind, and that a reference to the New Testament would be an anachronism. — Eel. Rew.Z
s [In this long dialogue, the tempter tells Cain (who is that far supposed to be Ignorant of the fact) that the soul is ticmortal, and that " souls who dare use their immortality " arr condemned by God to be wretched everlastingly. This t*& timent, which is the pervading moral (if we may call it *o) « the play, is developed In the lines which follow. — Htiis"There Is nothing against the immortality of the soul in 'Cain' that 1 recollect. I bold no such opinions ;— but,, j° a drama, the first rebel and the first murderer must be made to talk according to their characters." — Byron Lctterul
Souls who dare look the Omnipotent tyrant in
HU everlasting (ace, and tell him that
His evil is not good! If he has made.
As he saith — which I know not, nor believe —
But, if he made ds — he cannot unmake:
We are immortal! — nay, he'd have us so,
That he may torture : — let him! He is great —
But, in his greatness, is no happier than
We in our conflict! Goodness would not make
Evil; anil what else hath he made? But let him
Sit on his vast and solitary throne,
Creating worlds, to make eternity
Less burthensome to his immense existence
And unparticipated solitude;
Let him crowd orb on orb: he Is alone
Indefinite, indissoluble tyrant;1
Could he but crush himself, 'twere the best boon
He ever granted: but let him reign on,
And multiply himself in misery!
Spirits and Men, at least we sympathise —
And, suffering in concert, make our pangs
Innumerable more endurable,
By the unbounded sympathy of all
With all! But He t so wretched in his height,
So restless in his wretchedness, must still
Create, and re-create. a
Cain. Thou speak'st to me of things which long have swum
In visions through my thought: I never could
Eeconcile what I saw with what I heard.
My father and my mother talk to me
Of serpents, and of fruits and trees: I see
The gates of what they call their Paradise
Guarded by flery-sworded cherubim,
Which shut them out, and me: I feel the weight
Of daily toil, and constant thought: I look
Around a world where I seem nothing, with
Thoughts which arise within me, as if they
Could master all things: —but I thought alone
This misery was mine My father is
Tamed down; my mother has forgot the mind
1 [The poet rises to the sublime in making I.ucifer first tapire Cain with the knowledge of his Immortality — a portion of truth which hath the efficacy of falsehood upon the T;ctirn ; for Cain, feeling himself already unhapp}', knowing tiat hU being cannot be abridged, has the less scruple to teare to be as Lucifer, " mighty." The whole of this speech u truly titanic; a daring and dreadful description given by "enasting despair of the Deity.— Galt.j
1 [" Create, and re-create — perhaps he '11 mol;r>
1 [- Have stood before thee as I am ; but chosen
Ti,e serpent's charming symbol, as befure." — MS.J
* (The tree of life was doubtless a material tree, producing r=at*rol fruit, proper as such for the nourishment of the body; but waI , i not Ki apart to be partaken of as a
For such companionship, I would not now
Cain. Ah 1 didst thou tempt my mother?
Lucifer. I tempt none.
Save with the truth: was not the tree the tree
Cain. They were, as I have heard from those who heard them, In thunder.
Lucifer. Then who was the demon? He
Cain. Would they had snatch'd both
The fruits, or neither 1
Lucifer. One Is yours already;
The other may be still.
Cain. How so?
Lucifer. By being
Yourselves, In your resistance. Nothing can
Cain, But didst thou tempt my parents?
Poor clay I what should I tempt them for, or how?
Cain. They say the serpent was a spirit.
Lucifer. Who Saith that? It is not written so on high: The proud One will not so far falsify, Though man's vast fears and little vanity Would make him cast upon the spiritual nature His own low failing. The snake wat the snake — No more; and yet not less than those he tempted, In nature being earth also—more in wisdom, Since he could overcome them, and foreknew The knowledge fatal to their narrow joys. Thlnk'st thou I'd take the shape of things that die?
fain. But the thing had a demon?
Lucifer. He but woke one
In those he spake to with his forky tongue.
symbol or sacrament of that celestial principle which nourishes the soul to immortality V — Bishop Iiuiim :.]
1 [The Eclectic reviewer, we believe the late Robert Hall, says, —" Innocence is not the cause of curiosity, but has, in every stage of society, been its victim. Curiosity has ruined greater numbers than any other passion ; and as, in its incipiej.. actings, it is the most dangerous foe of innocence, so, when it becomes a passion, it is only fed by guilt. Innocence, indeed, is gone, when desire has conceived the sua. Cain, In this drama, is made, like the Faust of Goethe, to be the victim of curiosity ; and a fine moral might have been deduced from it." — Dr. Johnson, on the contrary, says, " A generous and elei ated mind is distinguished by nothing more certainly than by an eminent degree of curiosity. This passion is, perhaps, regularly heightened in proportion as the powers of the mind are elevated and enlarged. Curiosity is the thirst of the soul; it inflames and torments us, and makes us taste every thing with toy, however otherwise insipid, by which It may be quenched.'1}
The seed of the then world may thus array
Their earliest fault In fable, and attribute
To me a shape I scorn, as I scorn all
That bows to him, who made things but to bend
Before his sullen, sole eternity j
But we, who see the truth, must speak it. Thy
Fond parents listen'd to a creeping thing,
And fell. For what should spirits tempt them? What
Was there to envy in the narrow bounds
Of Taradise, that spirits who pervade
Space but I speak to thee of what thou know'st
With all thy tree of knowledge.
Cain. But thou canst not
Speak aught of knowledge which I would not know,
And heart to look on?
Bo It proved. Darest thou look on Death?
He has not yet
Lucifer* Cain. Lucifer. Cain. Been seen. Lucifer. Cain.
But must be undergone.
Says he is something dreadful, and my mother
Lucifer. And thou?
Cain. Thoughts unspeakable
Crowd in my breast to burning, when I hear
Lucifer. It has no shape ; but will absorb all things That bear the form of earth-born being.
I thought it was a being: who could do
Lucifer. Ask the Destroyer.
Cain. Who 1
Lucifer. The Maker — call him
Which name thou wilt; he makes but to destroy.
Cain. I knew not that, yet thought it, since I heard Of death : although I know not what it is, Tet It seems horrible. I have look'd out In the vast desolate night in search of him; And when I saw gigantic shadows In The umbrage of the walls of Eden, chequer'd By the far-Hashing of the cherubs' swords, I watch'd for what I thought his coming 1 : for With fear rose longing in my heart to know What 'twas which shook us all—but nothing came. And then I turn'd my weary eyes from off Our native and forbidden Paradise, Hp to the lights above us, in the azure, AY hich arc so beautiful: shall they, too, die?
Lucifer. Perhaps—but long outlive both thine and thee. [die—
Cain. I'm glad of that: I would not have them They are so lovely. What is death? I feat, I feel, it is a dreadful thing; but what,
of animals — some of whom Abel was In the habit of offering
I cannot compass: 'tis denounced against us, Both them who sinn'd and sinn'd not, as an ill — What ill?
Lucifer. To be resolved into the earth.
Cain. But shall I know it?
Lucifer. As I know not death,
I cannot answer.
Cain. Were I quiet earth
That were no evil: would I ne'er had been
Lucifer. That is a grovelling wish,
Less than thy father's, for he wish'd to know.
Cain. But not to live, or wherefore pluck'd he not The life-tree?
Lucifer. He was hinder'd.
Cain. Deadly error!
Not to snatch first that fruit: — but ere he pluck'd
Lucifer. And I, who know all things, fear nothing: see
What is true knowledge.
Cain. Wilt thou teach me all?
Lucifer. Ay, upon one condition.
Cain. Name it
Lucifer. Thai Thou dost fall down and worship me—thy Lord.
Cain. Thou art not the Lord my father worships.
Cain. His equal?
Lucifer. No;—I have nought in common with him! Nor would: I would be aught above—beneath— Aught save a sharer or a servant of His power. I dwell apart; but I am great: — Many there are who worship me, and more Who shall—be thou amongst the first.
Cain. I never
As yet have bow'd unto my father's God,
Lucifer. Hast thou ne'er bow'd
Cain. Have I not said it ?—need I say it? Could not thy mighty knowledge teach thee that?
Lucifer. He who bows not to him has bow'd to ise!
Cain. But I will bend to neither.
Lucifer. Ne'er the less,
Thou art my worshipper: not worshipping
Cain. And what is that?
Lucifer. Thou 'It know here — and hereafter.
Cain. Let me but
Be taught the mystery of my being.
Lucifer. Follow Where I will lead thee.
Cain. But I must retire To till the earth — for I had promised
Cain. To cull some first-fruits.
Cain. To offer up
With Abel on an altar.
up as sacrifices; so that it is not quite coDori"!Jr that «>•: should be so much at a loss to conjecture what Utm «»■ — Jeppbuy.]